January 17th, 2014, our intended date of return to South Sudan, has come and gone, and we are still waiting in Uganda. We left Nasir in the middle of December for our regularly scheduled “Kampala assignment,” but due to the continuing conflict, particularly in Upper Nile State, we have not yet been cleared to return. It has been heartbreaking to watch as what began as a political clash in Juba has since spread and fractured the country along tribal lines.
The cell phone towers have been down, and we have been unable to speak with our friends in Nasir. We hope that they are doing well, and we are eager to hear from them. Both the uncertainty of the conflict in surrounding areas and the inability to communicate with our staff on the ground have kept us from returning. Every Village has committed to reevaluating the situation on a weekly basis, and we are praying that we will be able to return soon.
While waiting here in Uganda cannot compare to what those in South Sudan are facing, it has been challenging time, not knowing what the future will hold. Will it be a week or a month before we go back? Will Nasir be the same or different from when we left? As we wait, I sometimes feel like Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal – can’t go forward, can’t go back.
One positive thing about being in Kampala is that it has allowed us to meet missionaries serving in other parts of South Sudan. I have been encouraged by our times of fellowship and prayer. I have enjoyed comparing stories about cultural misunderstandings, language mishaps, snake encounters, and donkey cart dealings, and to hear the wisdom of those who have served faithfully for many years. But better than sharing stories has been meeting people who share our love for the South Sudanese, who are eager to return in spite of difficult circumstances.
So while there have been many times that I have sounded like the Israelites sitting in the desert, wondering why God led them out of Egypt only to have them stranded in the desert, I know that God is faithful. He can be trusted with the next two years of my life as well as the future of South Sudan.